US & Canada

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford apologises for oral-sex remarks

Troubled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has apologised for obscene comments he made on live TV while denying he had offered oral sex to a female staff member.

The Canadian politician used what he called "unforgivable language", in remarks to reporters.

He also threatened to take legal action against former employees who made claims about his drinking and drug use.

It is the latest scandal to engulf 44-year-old Mr Ford, who last week admitted smoking crack cocaine.

Police documents released on Wednesday quoted Ford associates as saying that the mayor had driven drunk, used racially abusive language, threatened staff, consorted with a woman suspected of being a prostitute and made a sexual proposition to a female staff member.

'Particularly disappointing'

On Thursday morning, he told reporters the allegations were "outright lies", although he conceded he might have driven after taking alcohol.

However, reporters were left gasping by his profane outburst as he denied having once offered oral sex to a former female employee.

The father of two young children said that he was "happily married" and crudely commented that he enjoyed enough oral sex at home.

Later on Thursday, Mr Ford was flanked by his wife, Renata, as he expressed regret for the "graphic" language, the latest in a string of apologies.

He said his integrity as a father and husband had been attacked, prompting him to "see red".

"I acted on complete impulse in my remarks," he said.

Mr Ford also announced he was getting help from healthcare professionals.

The erratic mayor was wearing a Toronto Argonauts jersey when he made the sexually charged comments.

The Canadian Football League team said in a statement: "These latest remarks, while wearing our team's jersey, are particularly disappointing."

'Stubborn, pig-headed'

Councillor Karen Stintz later said the city had suspended all school trips to city hall indefinitely because staff deemed it unsafe.

Meanwhile, many of the 44-member city council turned their backs on the mayor as he addressed political matters.

"This is one of the most stubborn, pig-headed people I think we have ever seen," said Councillor Janet Davis.

"He seems to have no self-awareness, no core of moral character. It is stunning."

In his initial remarks on Thursday, the mayor had vowed legal action against his former chief of staff and two other aides over allegations they made to police, detailed in legal papers released on Wednesday.

The police interviews were conducted to obtain a search warrant for Alexander Lisi, Mr Ford's friend and occasional driver, whom police accuse of marijuana possession and trafficking.

The mayor also threatened litigation against a waiter who said he believed Mr Ford and a woman had snorted cocaine in a private room at a restaurant on St Patrick's Day 2012.

On Wednesday, the city council voted 41-2 requesting he take leave, but they have no authority to remove him. Mr Ford has vowed to stay on and run for re-election in October 2014.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne suggested the provincial government could intervene, as she made a televised statement on Thursday.

"The things we are seeing and hearing about Mayor Rob Ford are truly disturbing," she said.

But it was not all bad news for the conservative mayor, who was elected in 2010 on a pledge to tackle wasteful spending at city hall.

It was announced that Mr Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, would get their own TV talk show next Monday, entitled Ford Nation.

The deal with Sun News Network follows last week's cancellation of the brothers' popular weekly radio show with a local broadcaster.

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